D'Agostino double helps Perth go nine unbeaten
Perth Glory went nine Hyundai A-League games unbeaten on Friday night by accounting for Wellington Phoenix 4-2 at HBF Park.
Nick D'Agostino's brace - the Australian U-23 striker's second and third goals for Glory in two matches - helped Tony Popovic's side establish a commanding buffer after Tomislav Mrcela broke the deadlock shortly beofre half time.
Wellington got a goal back when Gary Hooper came off the bench to head Tim Payne's cross home and even after Payne was dismissed for a second yellow card, Hooper fired another one past Reddy to give Ufuk Talay's side hope.
But although the undermanned visitors came home with a wet sail, Bruno Fornaroli settled the score in the 90th minute to extend Glory's impressive unbeaten run.
Wellington they should've scored first in a tense opening half arm wrestle through David Ball only for the English striker to drag his finish across the face of Liam Reddy's goal, and Ufuk Talay's side were made to pay when Glory scored two quickfire goals on the stroke of the interval.
The first arrived when Mrcela nodded Kilkenny's swinging corner past Stefan Marinovic and, in the blink of an eye, the reigning Premiers doubled their advantage.
Mrcela's opener came in scrappy fashion but the second from Glory was a delight. A wonderful interchange involving Joel Chianese and Kilkenny created space for Bruno Fornaroli in the penalty area, and the Uruguayan forward held off his man and teed up D'Agostino to slot a second past Marinovic.
Wellington are now winless in their last 26 away matches when trailing at the break and their mountain to climb was made harder when D'Agostino nodded Kim Soo-Beom's sublime cross in on 54 minutes.
Hooper gave Phoenix a lifeline after coming off the bench to nod Payne's cross home, and the Englishman added another with a well-taken finish to make it a grandstand finish but it was not enough.
Fornaroli made sure of the result in the closing stages with a thumping finish to put paid to Wellington's hopes.
Mrcela breaks the deadlock
The contest was evenly poised in the WA capital but Glory hit the front through man-mountain centre back Mrcela.
Kilkenny's corner delivery was not dealt with properly by the Phoenix, allowing Mrcela to knock a powerful header past Phoenix gloveman Marinovic.
D'Agostino strikes to give Glory two
Within minutes the hosts inflicted a killer blow via D'Agostino.
The build up play involving Kilkenny and Chianese was delightful, as was Fornaroli's poise in the box, and D'Agostino's finish gave Perth a two-goal buffer out of nowhere.
D'Agostino adds another
It looked game, set, match Glory when D'Agostino rose uncontested to head in the home side's third.
After a sensational burst down the left, Kim's cross was perfectly weighted for the in-form Australian youth international to grab his second of the encounter and although Marinovic got a hand to it, there was no denying D'Agostino his second.
Hooper gives Phoenix a lifeline
Talay threw on Hooper in attempt to salvage something and the move paid near-instant dividends.
Payne's cross was excellent, and the header gave Reddy absolutely no chance in the Perth goal.
Hooper ensures a grandstand finish
Payne was dismissed after clipping D'Agostino but Phoenix did not throw in the towel.
Their resolve was rewarded when Hooper cleverly held off his man and beat Reddy at the near post. But it was not enough for the 10-men fro the Kiwi capital.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City
Saturday, 15 February
Kick off: 7pm local, 5pm AEDT
- Perth Glory have a bye